FULTON, Ill. — Following the departure of tourism director Heather Bennett, the city of Fulton is already working to take the necessary steps to fill the void she left behind.
Bennett’s other former position as executive director of the Fulton Chamber of Commerce, though, still hangs in the balance.
Fulton Chamber of Commerce members, including five-year board president Greg Naftzger, approached the council Monday about what the future holds for the relationship between them and the city.
“With Heather’s departure as a city employee, tourism director and chamber director, the Fulton Chamber of Commerce has been told that we will basically be cut off financially from the city and that the new tourism director will not be also the executive director of the chamber,” Naftzger said.
His comments came after the city announced that instead of replacing Bennett in both of her roles with the city, they would create a new position calling for a Tourism and Community Services Director on a recommendation from City Administrator Ed Cannon.
Prior to her resignation, the city funded two-thirds of Bennett’s $63,000 salary with the chamber funding the other third. The problem with that, according to Cannon’s recommendation, is that her responsibilities with the chamber consumed about 70 percent of her work load.
Cannon also said the original partnership between the city and the chamber which began about 10 years ago was for temporary assistance from the city, paying the two-thirds of Bennett’s salary. The Fulton Chamber of Commerce was then supposed to absorb all the salary cost and fund the director position on their own.
“The transition never occurred and the position developed into a permanent arrangement,” Cannon said.
Now that the position has been vacated, the city feels it is time to separate the two entities and work as a mutual partnership.